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114          MY   COUNTRY   AND   MY   PEOPLE

This feeling for nature practically overflows in all Chinese
poetry, and forms an important part of the Chinese spiritual
heritage. Yet here, Confucianism plays an equally important
part. The worship of primitive simplicity was consciously a
part of the Confucian tradition. The agricultural basis of
Chinese national life was partly built on the family system,
which identified itself with ownership of land in the country,
and partly on the Confucian dream of the Golden Age. Con-
fucianism always harked back to the early period of the
Emperors Yao and Shun, as the Golden Age when life was at
its simplest and the needs of man were fewest. It was spoken
of as a period when the people squatted on the earth and sang
to the rhythm of sticks beaten on the ground, so happy and
innocent that the burden of their song was:

We go to work at sunrise.

And come back to rest at sunset.

We know nothing and learn nothing.

What has the emperor's virtue to do with us?

The worship of the ancients then became identical with the
worship of simplicity, for in Chinese the two notions are closely
related, as in the word kup'o, or "ancient and simple." The
Confucian ideal of the family has always been that the men
partly study and partly till the ground, while the women spin
and weave. As against the Taoistic poem quoted, and essentially
supporting it in the praise of the simple life, we have, for
instance, the poem which Ch'en Chiju, a scholar at the end of
the sixteenth century, handed to his children as his family heritage:

Life is complete

With children at your feet;

Just a handful of hay hides your cot.

If land is sterile.

To make it fertile,

A young calf will surely help a lot.

Teach thy sons to read, too, in spare hours,

Not for fame nor for Mandarin collars.

Brew your wine, plant bamboos, water flowers,

Thus a house for generations of scholars.